Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

AInsights: The Future of Google Search Ain’t What It Used To Be; The Rise of Ignite Moments

© FT montage/Getty Images/Dreamstime

AInsights: Executive-level insights on the latest in generative AI…subscribe here.

Google is exploring options to charge for “premium” features powered by generative artificial intelligence (genAI), which could rock its core search business and the search industry at large.

The idea is to introduce value-added AI services into its premium subscription, which also offers Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and Google Docs. Google’s traditional search engine would remain free to users, supported by advertising. But charging for enhanced search features could be a first for the company.

Google has been testing an experimental AI-powered search service that presents detailed answers to queries. This was the initial test case of its “Search Generative Experience” or SGE powered by LLMs such as PaLM 2, which generates an “AI-powered snapshot” in its result. By late 2023, 77.8% of searches had an SGE result, and this number has only continued to grow.

The thing that we don’t talk about too much, but need to, is the massive amount of compute necessary to product genAI results. Google’s advertising-supported business model was architected to support these soaring costs. Subscriptions seem like an economical solution, except when your entire user-base is used to ‘free.’ It’s hard to change behavior toward a paid model unless the value proposition is clear and compelling.

As an aside, I shifted from free to premium subscriptions for ChatGPT and Perplexity.


This comes at a time when Google is facing competition, not just from search companies such as Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo, but also from the likes of ChatGPT and Perplexity.

In fact, I use Perplexity as my go to search engine when I need to find direct answers or solutions. It saves me time from having to wrestle with Google’s algorithm for quality output and it also footnotes the results in case I want to validate the information or learn more.

I’m not alone in these new behaviors either.

For instance, think back to the rise of Web 2.0. Do you read instruction manuals anymore?

No. No-one does. Instead, you most likely go to Youtube to figure out how to use, make, fix, or build something. Like Google Search though, we all depend on the accuracy of the algorithm to determine relevance. You most likely have to watch more than one video.

Nowadays, clever consumers use the ChatGPT app, or in my case, the new Ray-Ban Meta AI powered sunglasses, to point the camera at an object and have generative AI provide the instructions.

Since November 2022, when ChatGPT hit the scene, Google announced an internal “code red,” which called its founders back to work, and has been scrambling to respond to the radical shift in how consumers interact with information since.

Even before ChatGPT, Google was already facing competition from TikTok and Instagram as mobile consumers preferred peer-driven content that felt more trustworthy than traditional search engine optimized result.

Interestingly, genAI could be the very thing that helps Google and all businesses alike.

See, Google isn’t the only company threatened by AI or even social media search. Any company with a website is now threatened by these new intelligent platforms and behaviors.

In traditional search, SEO strategies such as keyword optimization, Page Rank, and intuitive desktop and mobile design would help competitive companies perform better in results. But what happens when consumers are going to genAI or social and using more personal ways of searching for information or desired outcomes? How does your site, product or service, or solution perform in these use cases?

It’s time to find out the answer and respond accordingly. There is no longer one player or platform connecting curiosity, intent, and outcomes.

One of the most interesting things that’s shared across AI and social media searches is the conversational aspect to the prompt or search query. Keywords are a thing of the past. More specific instruction or questions have become the norm.

In fact, I just presented on this subject in Florida.

I call these new search and discovery moments, “Ignite Moments.” It’s the moment someone asks a question or seeks to learn more about a subject.

Where do they go?

What do they prompt or query?

What format do they prefer?

And most importantly, how can you help them find you and how can you deliver the most relevant and productive journey once you have their attention?

Please subscribe to AInsights.

Please subscribe to my master newsletter, a Quantum of Solis.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “AInsights: The Future of Google Search Ain’t What It Used To Be; The Rise of Ignite Moments”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Mailing List

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Stay Connected